The news that crime fell 17 percent in June and July from the same period last year is welcome news (though one wonders if the criminals stayed indoors because it has been so hot). But what happened on your street?
Thanks to technology, you can find out. The Dallas police offer crime reports, sorted by date, beat and reporting area, on their web site. What do you need to do?
First, agree to the terms of the site. Then, if you don’t know your beat or reporting area numbers, click on street search and fill in the relevant information. If you use the Advocate address, for example, you get beat 112 in reporting area 1188. Make sure you use the correct road designation, be it street, road or highway, or you’ll get an error when you search.
Then return to the previous page and click offense incidents records. On the form that comes up, fill in the beat and reporting area numbers and the dates you want to search. I did it for July 1-31 for the Advocate.
The result? We had 19 crimes in July, only one of which, an assault, was especially serious. That compares to 1 crime in July 2007. Which would seem to mean that citywide reduction hasn’t happened around the magazine office.
Or maybe not. I also checked 2005 and 2006, and there were no crimes reported at all. This would seem to imply a flaw in the system, since it’s difficult to believe that there was only one crime reported in July over three years. I also checked using my home address, and found the same pattern.
It could be a software or hardware flaw, but it’s more likely a glitch in the way the police compile the statistics. They periodically alter the boundaries of beat and reporting areas, so the beat and reporting area numbers that I entered for 2008 may not have have been the same as in previous years. And there is no way to tell from the statistics.
Still, it’s comforting to know that in July 2008, at least, I was reasonably safe at the office and at home.